Clemson recruiting: Grading the Tigers’ 2018 recruiting class
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Now that National Signing Day has come and gone, we can evaluate Clemson’s class as a whole. With only two additions, the Tigers’ overall outlook hasn’t changed all that much. However, those two NSD signees are talented enough to make a significant impact on their positions and on their respective units as a whole, as well as the entire team.
Offense — A
- QB Trevor Lawrence
- RB Lyn-J Dixon
- T Jackson Carman
- T Jordan McFadden
- TE Braden Galloway
- WR Derion Kendrick
- WR Justyn Ross
Before Wednesday, this grade might’ve been in the B or B-plus range. Clemson had only signed one quarterback, one receiver, one tight end, one running back and a pair of offensive linemen, but the Tigers made the most of each of those positions. They needed at least one more lineman, but Richard Gouraige spurned Clemson a second time and signed with Florida. The Tigers can survive not taking another lineman this year — especially since Mitch Hyatt is returning — but they might be regretting it down the road. Ross was a massive get, especially since Clemson had to fight off Alabama late in the cycle for him.
But when four of the players you sign on offense were the top-ranked players in their states according to various ratings, you can afford to overlook some of the deficiencies. Lawrence, Carman, Kendrick and Ross are as talented as you can get, so Clemson reloaded at each of those positions in one fell swoop.
Defense/Special Teams — A
- DE Xavier Thomas
- DE K.J. Henry
- DE Justin Mascoll
- DT Josh Belk
- DT Darnell Jefferies
- LB Mike Jones Jr.
- LB Jake Venables
- CB Kyler McMichael
- CB Mario Goodrich
- K B.T. Potter
Speaking of reloading, that’s exactly what Clemson did on defense as well. The Tigers reeled in an absolute haul on the defensive line, swiping two more top-ranked players in their respective states in Thomas and Henry. Those two are going to be the defensive ends that anchor Clemson’s line for years to come, and they’ll have a year to learn under Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant. Mascoll, Belk and Jefferies are also oozing with potential and should be able to shuffle right in on the defensive line and be primed to contribute there.
Clemson was able to nab Goodrich on Signing Day, giving the Tigers one more valuable defensive back — a position group that desperately needed restocking after losing so much after the season. They probably could’ve benefitted from securing another one, but Trevon Flowers and Patrick Surtain Jr. each went elsewhere.
Overall — A
To be honest, it’s hard to find any fault with this class. The biggest gripe fans could (rightfully) have is that the numbers are a bit too thin and could’ve been aided by a few more takes, but that’s something the coaching staff will have to address as they shift their focus to the 2019 recruiting cycle.
In the end, Clemson added a recruiting class absolutely jam-packed with talent. It won’t be surprising to see legitimate — and early — production from every one of these guys. Dabo Swinney knows how to sell his program, and he did it once again with another stellar class.
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